River Styx Brewing, which is planning to open a tap room at 166 Boulder Drive this summer, has secured its alcohol permit from the License Commission.

“We’re very thrilled to have this type of a use in our downtown,” Director of Economic Development Mary Jo Bohart said during a public hearing on the license. “As you’ve probably all seen, as microbrewery-type ventures get launched in other communities it spawns a wonderful type of new appeal for a downtown.”

The permit will allow customers to purchase and consume beer produced by brewery at it location when the tap room opens July 1, or possibly earlier, co-founder and Ashburnham resident Jackie Cullen said.

The Patch reports that two businesses recently in front of the selectmen for liquor licenses violations will serve suspensions later this year.
The Dedham Board of Selectmen voted to suspend Moseley’s on the Charles’ liquor license for three days for two violations. Four additional days will be held in advance for 24 months. The board voted to have the establishment serve the suspension from Feb. 17-19.

In their ruling, the board determined that in both, the March 25 and Oct. 1 incidents, Moseley’s staff over-served patrons and permitted disorder and an illegality on premise, and permitted a disturbance. The Oct. 1 incident was notable due to a post-event shooting that happened in a nearby parking lot.

The need to regulate Massachusetts’ newly legal marijuana industry is leading to possible attempts to revamp state alcohol regulations.

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said in an interview with The Republican/MassLive.com this week that she was prompted to form a new Alcohol Task Force while looking at how other states regulate marijuana.

“While looking at cannabis, we saw what a lot of other states were doing around alcohol usage and control,” Goldberg said. “One of the models happens to have taken their alcoholic beverage commission and expanded its role.”

 

Goldberg’s office is in charge of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, the commission that enforces laws and regulations relating to the sale, purchase, possession and manufacturing of alcohol in the state. That is the reason that the state’s marijuana law, which voters passed in November, placed regulation of marijuana under the treasurer’s office as well. Goldberg is now tasked with creating and overseeing a new Cannabis Control Commission to oversee the legal marijuana industry.

The task of the new alcohol commission, which Goldberg announced last week, is to review the legal and regulatory framework governing alcoholic beverages in Massachusetts and offer suggestions on what changes should be made.

Currently, Goldberg said, the state’s alcohol laws are “antiquated” and do not interrelate. “There’s no predictability, there’s no smoothness, a fix can create another problem and has,” Goldberg said. “The law hasn’t changed much since 1933, but we’re looking at a 21st century world, so much has evolved.” Federal prohibition laws ended in 1933.

Goldberg said she views the alcoholic beverage industry as an economic driver for Massachusetts. “We want to regulate it in a way that keeps it safe while at the same time ensuring that we are supporting something that creates economic growth,” Goldberg said.

One frequently talked about problem with the liquor licensing system is a law that caps the number of liquor licenses in each city or town and requires all additional liquor licenses be approved by the state legislature, rather than by local officials. Municipal officials have long opposed this law, arguing that it hinders economic development and leads to unnecessary delays in the granting of new licenses. Both Gov. Charlie Baker and former Gov. Deval Patrick have tried to roll back the law, but lawmakers have declined to go along with it. Opponents of a change voice concerns about there being too many liquor licenses and about new licenses diluting the value of older ones.

The liquor license provision was one part of a comprehensive bill released by the Baker administration on Monday, aimed at cutting back red tape and obsolete laws that make it harder for municipal governments to operate.

Another controversial issue that the task force may examine involves the beer brewers industry, which has been seeking more freedom to switch distributors, which is difficult under current law.

One problem Goldberg identified is currently, the licensing process is slowed down by the number of investigators working for the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. So for example, if numerous restaurants apply for outdoor seating in mid-May, it might take until July for an inspector to schedule an inspection.

The task force will examine laws, regulations and the structure of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission itself. “Everything’s on the table,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg said she wants any legislative wish list to be “rational and reasonable” so the fixes have the potential to be passed into law. That could mean taking incremental steps toward larger changes.

The commission will hold five regional public hearings, including one in Springfield. It is expected to provide a preliminary report within six months.

The commission will be chaired by E. Macey Russell, a partner at the law firm Choate, Hall & Stewart.

Members of the commission include: attorney Kate Cook, former Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong, former chief legal counsel to the Massachusetts Port Authority Rachael Rollins, adjunct professor at Quincy College Robert Cerasoli, former state Rep. John Fernandes, and Rosenberg’s press secretary Pete Wilson. None of the appointees has direct ties to the alcohol industry.

 

The city of Pittsfield has issued an ultimatum to the Polish Community Club: Get your house in order or likely lose your liquor license.

The Berkshire Eagle reports that Licensing Board members urged the club to provide an application for a new liquor license manager at the October board meeting in order to fill a two-year-old vacancy.

“If there is no progress made, I’ll make the motion to take the license,” said board member Richard Stockwell.

A Hooters restaurant that was denied a liquor license by the Dedham Board of Selectmen is pleading their case to the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

The ABCC held the appeal hearing for Dedham Wings LLC, doing business as Hooters. The restaurant was denied a liquor license transfer from Summer Shack in April.

The restaurant says the denial was unfair, citing the lack of an alcohol establishment policy and insinuating that two of the four selectmen denied the transfer because they were up for reelection weeks later, according to the Dedham Transcript.

//

//

The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who oversees the state’s alcohol regulators, is set to launch a sweeping review of the state’s liquor laws and regulations, calling the current rules outdated, unclear, and burdensome for businesses.The ambitious effort will be led by a task force of brewers, distillers, winemakers, wholesalers, retailers, and legal experts to be convened this fall. The group will be asked to produce recommendations for legislators to consider next year.

As reported by the Boston Herald and Fox News, two young entrepreneurs are fighting to bring back happy hour.

Former Boston-area students Sam Davidson and Brian Sachetta have launched a petition to overturn Massachusetts’ longstanding ban on happy-hour discounts — and have gathered more than 8,500 signatures so far.

The Boston Herald first reported on the effort. The petition, titled “Bring Happy Hour Back To Boston,” features 11 reasons why happy hour should be reinstated, arguing that after its prohibition in 1984, the hours after work “stopped being ‘happy’ and became just ‘meh.’”

The Dedham Board of Selectmen have said no to a Hooters restaurant.

The board voted unanimously to deny the controversial restaurant a liquor license transfer from Summer Shack, the establishment that previously operated at the proposed location.

Prior to the vote, Selectman Dennis Teehan said the overwhelming opposition was among the reasons for the vote against Hooters.

The day when certain Boston diners can bring their own bottle of chardonnay or can of pale ale to their favorite neighborhood haunt drew closer this week with approval of BYOB by another city panel, as reported by the Boston Globe.

The city’s Licensing Board voted unanimously Thursday to allow BYOB — short for “bring your own bottle.” That action followed a City Council vote in December that set Boston on the path to allowing BYOB, but only at establishments without liquor licenses and only in specific outlying neighborhoods.

“I see this as an opportunity to bring increased economic activity to neighborhoods across Boston, and I thank the Licensing Board for taking up this measure that has great potential to make a positive impact on our city’s economic growth,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a prepared statement.